Do You Prefer to Work Independently or On a Team?

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When the interviewer asks "Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?" he or she wants to know if you are a team player or would rather work on your own. Some people do their best work as part of a group, while others prefer working alone. A question like this aims to test your personality and your preferred method of completing a task. 

Why Interviewers Want to Know

The interviewer or hiring manager wants to hear that you are comfortable working independently and are equally open to working and sharing responsibility with others.

A person is likely to slightly prefer one over the other, but highlighting the benefits of both approaches will make you a more dynamic, complex applicant.

Although there is no explicitly correct answer, different approaches may be more appropriate for different scenarios. Different situations in the workplace may require independence while others will need the efforts of an entire team.

Take caution in exaggerating your abilities to work independently or in a group, as it may backfire. Showing too much independence may concern employers about your ability to work well with others, and likewise, leaning too heavily toward working in a group may indicate too much reliance on the group.

Examples of the Best Answers

I am equally comfortable working as a member of a team and independently. In researching the LMN company, your mission statement and the job description, I could see similarities to previous positions that I have held where some assignments required a great deal of independent work and research, while others were better completed as a group.

I have experience with independent and team-based work and I see the value in both approaches.

In high school, I enjoyed playing soccer and performing with the marching band. Each required a different kind of team play, but the overall goal of learning to be a member of a group was invaluable. I continued to grow as a team member while on my sorority's debate team and through my advanced marketing class where we had numerous team assignments.

I am very comfortable working on a team, but I can also work independently, as well.

I am comfortable working alone and in a group depending on the situation. If the task is easy enough to  tackle on my own without brainstorming or breaking up the work without a team, I am happy to work on my own. However, if the assignment is a high priority or too much for one person to handle, I welcome working with a team to tackle the project together. In my experience, most projects require a combination of independent work and brainstorming depending on their various elements. 

Working in sales has strengthened my abilities to work both alone and with others. I am comfortable engaging with a customer face to face, but I also believe in the benefit of sitting and brainstorming with coworkers about best practices and alternative approaches. Additionally, having a team behind me gives me confidence that if I come across something I am unsure of while working alone, I have the resources to consult someone who can educate or help me.

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